11/07/05 — Mount Olive wins CVAC title

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Mount Olive wins CVAC title

Published in Sports on November 7, 2005 2:03 PM

MOC Sports Information

Heading into game four of Mount Olive's volleyball match at Lees-McRae, the Trojans were down a game and had been playing without their starting libero, who was on the bench nursing a stomach flu. Two games later, the Trojans were conference champions.

Heidi Busch tallied 22 kills, Sam Mitchell added 18 kills and Colby Mangum finished with 17 kills as Mount Olive claimed the regular season Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference volleyball title with a 30-26, 20-30, 21-30, 30-18, 15-10 victory over Lees-McRae on Saturday at Banner Elk. The Trojans end the regular season with an 11-match winning streak.

Mount Olive (26-6 overall, 19-1 CVAC) and Lees-McRae (24-10, 18-2) entered Saturday's contest tied for first in the CVAC standings, setting up a "winner takes all" match-up for the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in next weekend's CVAC Tournament.

Mount Olive had finished second behind Lees-McRae in the final standings in each of the last three seasons.

"I think it's appropriate that it would come down to us and Lees-McRae," said Mangum, one of three seniors on the squad. "This (a conference championship) is something that's eluded us the first three years. To accomplish that and be able to get a win on Lees-McRae's home court means a lot."

Mount Olive won a close game in game one, but Lees-McRae answered with decisive victories in the next two games. The Trojans played the first three games without starting libero Nikki Murphy, who was unable to play due to a stomach flu.

"We tend to play up and down a lot," said Busch, also a senior "I think we kind of got rattled because a lot of players were having to play outside of their normal position."

Murphy entered the match to start the fourth game. While her statistics show only four digs, the Trojan players agree Murphy's appearance was the turning point of the match.

"Once Nikki came in, everyone was able to go back to their normal positions," said Busch. "We started feeling more comfortable on the floor."

"Nikki is a calming factor for us," said Mangum. "She really stepped it up. To be that sick and play so hard for us really meant a lot. Her appearance was the turning point."

Along with Murphy's efforts, there was also praise for the play of freshmen Mallory Peavler and Tracey Smith.

"Mallory did a great job in Nikki's place," said senior setter Sara Christie. "And Tracey got some huge blocks for us. She really helped shut down Lees-McRae's outside."

The Trojans recorded a double-digit win in game four and pulled away in the fifth game to become the first team in the CVAC to sweep the regular season series against Lees-McRae since the conference adopted a home-and-home volleyball schedule in 1999. Mount Olive defeated Lees-McRae in five games on October 18.

Mount Olive has won each of the last three meetings against Lees-McRae.

Busch increased her career kills total to 2,395 and continues to rank eighth on the NCAA II all-time kills list. She's nine kills away from seventh place and 16 kills away from the No. 6 spot.

Christie recorded 46 assists and moved into 18th place on the NCAA II all-time list with 5,820 career assists. Christie also had a team-high 17 digs.

Mount Olive will get a much needed rest as the Trojans are off until Saturday when they begin play in the 2005 CVAC Volleyball Tournament, hosted by St. Andrews Presbyterian College. The top-seeded Trojans earn a first-round bye and open play in the quarterfinal round Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Pairings have not yet been determined.

"Winning the regular season conference title as a senior is very special," said Christie.

"And closing with a win at Lees-McRae gives us a lot of confidence going into the conference tournament."